REV. FR. BONNIE ANUSIEM Ph.D
The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of the outstanding Marian Solemnities (with Mary, Mother of God: January 1, Annunciation of the Lord: March 25,
and Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary: December 8). The Assumption is at the same time a dogma of faith proclaimed by Pope Pius XII in the Apostolic Constitution “Munificentisimus Deus of November 1, 1950. The dogma declaration runs thus:
The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.
This remains a solemn dogma which is to be accepted on the platform of faith and as a consequent culmination of various divine messages in the Bible concerning Mary, which includes but not restricted to the message of the angel at God’s instance: “Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with you”. If the blessed Mother of God was conceived without sin (Immaculate Conception) there is logic, reason, and faith to hold that she was preserved from bodily corruption at the end of her earthly life.
The glorious Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven did not happen by her own power. She had no power of her own to undertake such mysterious flight into heaven. It is purely the grace of God working in her. It is based upon this that we differentiate the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven (which is by his own divine power) and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (which took place through the power of God).
There are no direct biblical references narrating the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven, but there are strong biblical pointers as well as other events with inferential relationships.
- Isaiah 7:14. Here we are presented with the eternal Virginity of Mary. The word of God said that a Virgin shall conceive and bear a son. (Note well not a woman but a Virgin). A closer and more effective reflection shows us that after the birth of her child she remained a virgin. This also points to the fact that God aided the preservation of her virginity after having her child which actually happened through the power of the Holy Spirit. In effect she did not experience any form of physical mutilation on her body which is precious to God as the first tabernacle of our Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah 60: 13 confirms that God will bless the place where His feet rest.
- Luke 1:28. This is the only place in entire bible that God spoke of someone as being full of grace or highly favoured. God had in the past extolled some men and women of virtue like David, Deborah, Gideon and others but none has been told that he or she was full of grace. Mary was also told that she is blessed among all women which is another significant value placed on her. It does really follow that one with such rare attribute deserves a special package before God.
- Mystical experiences. This refers to a unique form of subjective religious experience which God allows some people to have. Outwardly this can be seen in some people experiencing one or two of those unique events in the Life of Jesus Christ. Examples are Stigmatism (bleeding at those spots Christ bled like Padre Pio), Bilocation (being at two places at same time like Alphonsus Ligouri and Anthony of Padua), Levitation (Being lifted up unaided by anything or person like Teresa of Avila), Glossolalia (Speaking in other tongues or languages like on the Pentecost day), Incorruption (body not decaying after death like Rita of Cascia and Bernadette Soubirous).Among these we relate Levitation and incorruption with Assumption as mystical experiences willed by God for our Blessed mother. Evidently this had happened with some people in the bible. In Genesis (5:24) we are told that Enoch suddenly was taken away. In 2 Kings (2:1-11), Elijah was taken up to heaven by a chariot of fire.
- There is need for us to learn from Mary and honour her than getting ourselves busy with arguments about her life and suitability of her cooperation with God in the salvation of mankind. We learn from her:
- HUMILITY: Let it be done to me according to your words.(Luke 1:38)
- LIFE OF FAITH: She believed in the promise made to her by God.(Luke 1:45)
- LIFE OF HOPE : She stood by the promise of God with ardent hope.(Luke1:55)
- LOVE FOR GOD AND OTHERS: Her visit to Elizabeth and assistance at the wedding at Cana in Galilee. (Luke 1:39ff; John 2:3ff).
- FEW WORDS BUT DEEP REFLECTION: She spoke only about four times in the bible. But she pondered all in her heart.(Luke 2:19).
As we celebrate the Assumption, let us know also that our lives need to be assumed into holiness. We need to reflect in our lives what characterized the Mother of our Lord, and who is our own Mother also.
Have a great day and happy Solemnity.